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Mobile phones head for one billion mark

Safety precautions to protect the public from the possible hazards of mobile phones are being announced by the Government.

:: More than 27 million people in Britain and more than 300 million worldwide use mobile phones.

:: The total number of mobile phones in the world is expected to reach one billion by 2005.

:: The first mobile phones cost around 2700, but prices plummeted as technology advanced and many companies now offer handsets for free in special deals to attract new customers.

:: Mobile phones emit microwaves similar to those used in microwave ovens, but at a much lower power level.

:: They have generated a multitude of scare stories, including suggestions that they cause cancer and memory loss, but the industry insists there is no evidence they have any harmful effects.

:: Research into mobiles includes a study at the University Neurology Clinic in Freiburg, Germany, which claimed they can increase blood pressure - the rise was small, but could be harmful to people with high blood pressure, said researchers.

:: Dr Kjell-Hansson Mild, at the National Institute of Working Life in Umea, Sweden, conducted tests on 11,000 mobile users which suggested regular use could lead to fatigue, headaches, and skin irritation.

:: Research at the University of Washington, Seattle, USA, suggested that microwaves can induce stress.

:: Swedish cancer specialist Dr Lennart Hardell has claimed to have found a correlation between which side of the head mobile users hold their handset and the location of tumours.

:: A University of Bristol team, led by Dr Alan Preece, found no evidence of mobile phone users suffering impairment of memory, spatial awareness or attention.



New Mobile Phone Safety Advice
December 08, 2000

Safety precautions to protect the public from the possible hazards of mobile phones are set to be announced by the Government.

The package of measures was expected to reflect the recommendations made in a report on mobile phones and health earlier this year.

The Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones led by Sir William Stewart found nothing to prove that mobile phones were a health risk.

But the report said there was preliminary evidence that mobile phone radiation may cause "subtle biological changes".

Although these were not necessarily harmful, the group advised adopting a precautionary approach until better scientific information was available.

The measures are expected to include a multi-million pound programme of research and an audit of mobile phone base stations.

They may also include leaflets for members of the public providing advice about the health effects of mobile phones.

In its response to the Stewart report, the Government agreed that international guidelines for emissions from mobile phones and base stations should be adopted in the UK.

However, these would not have to be enshrined in new laws.

The Government also agreed that manufacturers should ensure that customers know the SAR values of the handsets they are buying.

SAR, or Specific Absorption Rate, measures the rate at which mobile phone radiation is absorbed by the body.

Both these measures may feature in the announcement.

In addition, there might be recommendations for clearer warning signs around base stations.

The Government has said it is considering making it a requirement that full planning permission be granted for all new telecommunication masts.

The Government may also be taking forward further proposals to protect children and parents from emissions from base stations sited in and around schools.

More than 27 million people in the UK use mobile phones, but the public has received mixed messages over the safety of handsets.

It has been suggested that low frequency electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones may cause a wide range of health problems, from memory loss to brain cancer.

However, none of these fears is supported by solid research.

The package being announced follows discussions with industry, consumer groups and scientists.

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